The City of Fayetteville has issued 23 current and former firefighters checks totaling $92,515 for back pay related to an overtime pay issue following the Tennessee Department of Labor’s acceptance of the resolution approved by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen in December.
“They (the Department of Labor) made a few minor changes, and I signed the checks just before the holidays,” said Mayor Michael Whisenant during Thursday’s City Board work session, adding that the issue now seems to be put to rest and that procedures are in place going forward. “I want to thank our city administrator for bringing in Steve Cross from MTAS, because I think had we not had that presentation, we would have skipped the Department of Labor step in our plan.”
Cross, a fire management consultant with the Municipal Technical Advisory Service, had met with the board in early December to review his findings in a detailed report, which demonstrated a flaw in how overtime had been calculated and highlighted how the pay should be figured. The back pay study covered firemen’s compensation over the last two years.
Savings on health insurance
A year after deciding to go with health insurance plans offered through the State of Tennessee, the City of Fayetteville is seeing a significant savings and offering more options to employees, according to comments Thursday.
Describing tiers offered on the previous plans in comparison to the tiers available under the state plan, Bryant outlined the savings to employees as well as to the city. Adding to the advantages, he said, is the fact that increases in costs have only amounted to approximately three percent.
The bottom line, he said, amounts to a combined employee/city savings of roughly $128,806, referring to a report that came out of the city’s administration.
“Looking back, I think we owe it to the public to see how we’ve really done,” Bryant said, making reference to the contentious nature of the issue a little more than a year ago. “This came about because six aldermen voted unanimously for this plan—that was six individuals, some of whom aren’t here now, who came together and did the work for the employees and the city.
“It’s hard for one person to take the credit for anything, because you don’t get anything done here without four votes,” he continued. “This was a team effort that the people put us in here for, and I appreciate the fact everybody came together to work on it.”
Not addressed was the impact of the city taking on responsibility for administering the plans under the state program – formerly, a local provider administered the plans for city employees.
Future of recreation
Regarding parks and recreation, it was noted in the work session that an announcement will soon be made concerning the new hire for the recently created coordinator’s position. That individual, who holds a degree in parks and recreation, is expected to come on board in February.
And in related business, it was noted that several officials did visit the Ninth Grade Academy campus as part of a fact-finding tour as the city considers its options for growing parks and recreation in the future.
“There’s a lot of interest in that building, a lot of interest,” said City Administrator Scott Collins as he reported to the board, going on to say that the parks and recreation committee is considering a wide range of options. “Somehow, it got misconstrued that we were competing with people for the NGA building, and that couldn’t be further from the truth.”
According to discussion, it would be a long shot, to say the least, for the city to purchase that building and turn it into a recreation center.
The committee is trying to put together an outing during which they would visit recreational facilities in several area cities. Small suggested that their study also include the cost of operating those facilities, and Collins said the city is reaching out for that information as well.
“This is going to be a marathon, not a sprint,” he said. “We are slowly, methodically trying to gather this information.”
This week’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting will begin with a public hearing on the new city ordinance regulating floodplain development. That hearing gets underway at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 8.
The board moved forward to the agenda of its meeting this week approval of a $6,759 emergency expenditure to have a fire truck repaired, a $4,793 expenditure related to the recycling center and the purchase of equipment, and a budget amendment of $17,500 related to the geographic information system mapping program utilized jointly by the city and county.
Resolutions honoring Fayetteville High School’s FFA Chapter and Beta Club on each of their achievements are also on the agenda, as well as the appointments of Pat Haynes to the Board of Zoning and Appeals and Dan Holt to the Airport Authority.
It was also noted that FHS art teacher, Amber Self, and some of her students have assisted the city by repainting one of the “Welcome to Fayetteville” signs. The group plans to also repaint the city’s three remaining entryway signs.
Other discussion touched on the demolition of the old Badenhop Tractor Co. building, which occurred recently, as well as other work to enhance city esthetics. The need for the city to return to allocating $500,000 each year to its capital fund was also the focus of extensive talks.